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Today’s top news highlights: Risks & benefits of universal masking, prostate cancer rising


Here are the stories our MDedge editors across specialties think you need to know about today:

Universal masking: Risks and benefits
The idea of universal masking has been debated extensively. As reported in Science, previous randomized clinical studies performed on other viruses have shown no added protection, though small sample sizes and noncompliance are limiting factors. Leung et al. stated in The Lancet that the lack of proof that masks are effective should not rule them as ineffective. A study in the Journal of Medical Virology demonstrates 99.98%, 97.14%, and 95.15% efficacy for N95, surgical, and homemade masks, respectively, in blocking the avian influenza virus. On the contrary, an Annals of Internal Medicine study of four COVID-19 positive subjects found that “neither surgical masks nor cloth masks effectively filtered SARS-CoV-2 during coughs of infected patients.” READ MORE

Inflammation, thrombosis biomarkers tied to COVID-19 deaths
Biomarkers for inflammation and thrombosis may predict deaths from COVID-19 among critically ill patients, researchers said. Their prospective cohort study of 1,150 patients hospitalized in New York City also revealed a high proportion of racial and ethnic minorities, and confirmed high rates of critical illness and mortality. “Of particular interest is the finding that over three quarters of critically ill patients required a ventilator and almost one third required renal dialysis support,” Max O’Donnell, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University in New York, said in a press release. The study was published in The Lancet. READ MORE

Advanced prostate cancers still rising in U.S.
The incidence of advanced prostate cancers in the United States “persistently” increased annually for 5 years after the United States Preventive Services Task Force controversially advised in 2012 against prostate-specific antigen screening in men of all ages. “These data illustrate the trade-off between higher screening rates and more early-stage disease diagnoses (possibly overdiagnosis and overtreatment) and lower screening rates and more late-stage (possibly fatal) disease,” the authors of the study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, commented. “What is a surprise is that it’s every year,” said Ahmad Shabsigh, MD, a urologic oncologist at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. “To see it so clearly in this study is sad." READ MORE

Testicular sperm may improve IVF outcomes 
Use of testicular sperm in nonazoospermic couples who had prior in vitro fertilization failure using ejaculated sperm appears to improve embryo development and rates of clinical pregnancy and live birth, a retrospective observational study has found. The findings offer more evidence “that this might be something we can offer patients who’ve had multiple failures and no other reason as to why,” said M. Blake Evans, DO, a clinical fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. The study, which won the college’s Donald F. Richardson Memorial Prize Research Paper award, was released ahead of a scheduled presentation at the annual American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meeting. READ MORE

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